Provisions of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany (defeated in World War I) to station armed forces in a demilitarized zone in the Rhineland—a region in western Germany bordering France, Belgium, and part of the Netherlands. The treaty stipulated that Allied forces—including US troops—would occupy the region. In a blatant violation of the treaty, on March 7, 1936, Hitler ordered German troops to reoccupy the zone. Hitler gambled that the western powers would not intervene. His action brought condemnation from Great Britain and France, but neither nation intervened to enforce the treaty. This footage shows German forces entering the Rhineland.
In the shadow of the great Cologne cathedral march the German troops as the invasion of the demilitarized zone begins. Men and guns pour in. For the first time in 17 years, the city's streets resound to the goosestep. Young and old hail them, with never a thought as to the possible result of Hitler's bold stroke. Joy everywhere. How easily the horrors of war are forgotten in the ecstasy of the moment. Koblenz-on-the-Rhine, once occupied by Uncle Sam's troops. Now, Nazi sentries stand guard.
We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.